ECONYL is one of an increasing number of a regenerated nylon yarns, with different plastic recycling targets. ECONYL is specifically made from ghost nets fished out of the ocean and then added to other consumer waste. Someone actually asked me last week if it fell apart when you washed it. Imagine the convo with them about how nylon is made from oil.
Pretty much all active and swimwear is synthetic so that means it is oil based plastic. That's coz it's pretty tricky to swim or exercise in pure natural fibres like cotton or linen as once wet, it gets super heavy and sags. That used to only leave us with the option of petroleum based lycra until regenerated nylon was developed.
ECONYL is the brainchild of a guy called Giulio Bonazzi from Aquafil. He spent four years researching it and is now at the helm of one of the most popular regenerated nylon products on the planet.
How ECONYL is made is the same general idea as other regenerated nylons, but honestly if you aren't a detail person and you don't make it any further than this line, just know that even though it is made from old nylon bits and pieces someone found lying around the ocean and the tip, the end outcome looks, feels and is, exactly the same as it's non recycled counterpart. And it's a way better environmental choice.
Regenerated nylon like ECONYL won't fall apart and it's far better for the environment because you can recycle it. Regenerated nylon reduces the global warming impact of nylon by up to 80% compared with the new material from oil.
The core waste material is Nylon 6 (or PA6 / Plastic 6) and it is collected by ECONYL through waste collection infrastructure in USA, parts of Europe, Middle East and Asia. ECONYL also work through other groups like Healthy Seas & Net-Works, both of whom collect fishing nets - or ghost nets from around the world.
SO WHEN YOU HEAR ECONYL CALLED REGENERATED OCEAN PLASTIC, THAT IS PARTIALLY CORRECT, BUT THE OCEAN PLASTIC ISN'T OLD WATER BOTTLES, SHOPPING BAGS & BALLOONS. IT IS A VERY SPECIFIC NYLON FROM NETS. AND THE NETS ARE MIXED WITH OTHER NYLON WASTE COLLECTED FROM CARPET & TEXTILES.
The collected waste is sent to Ajdovščina in Slovenia where it is cleaned, shredded and bagged for transport to the regeneration plant in Ljubljana. (This is pretty much what happens with any recycling. The waste you are interested in, has to be separated from everything else.)
Sleepy yet? ECONYL recover 100% of the original nylon and that has revolutionised the industry. One hundred percent recovery is unique in a world where there is typically both higher waste by-product and the resultant new product quality isn't as high as the first product.(In plain english, for instance, plastic milk bottles can't be remade into more plastic milk bottles because the quality of the recycled product is too poor. Recycled plastic milk bottles tend to become plastic park furniture and stuff like that.)
Ghost nets are fishing nets that have been left or lost in the ocean. They are generally hard to see in low light and so trap, tangle & kill marine life. They are often made of synthetics, don't decompose and so drift around the oceans on their eternal killing mission forever - and there are thousands of kilometres of them in the oceans. Nylon is a plastic with super-long, heavy molecules - a thermoplastic silky material that can be melt-processed into fibres, films or shapes. Nylon is not actually one single substance but the name given to a whole family of very similar materials called polyamides.Nylon-6,6 (PA66) is semicrystalline polyamide commonly used in fibre applications such as carpeting, clothing, and tyre cord.
Images: d+k | Shapes in the Sand | FiT swimwear | Elle Evans Sustainable Swimwear | Lou Lou St Cruz